Four injured in fire at Exxon’s Baytown, Texas oil refinery

Dec 23 (Reuters) – Four people were injured when a fire erupted on Thursday at an Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) complex in Baytown, Texas, one of the largest refining and petrochemical facilities in the United States.

There were no fatalities and those injured were in stable condition and receiving medical treatment. Other personnel were accounted for, Exxon said.

The fire had been put out by roughly 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT), several hours after the blaze erupted.

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An Exxon official told a news conference that the fire had affected a unit that produces gasoline.

People familiar with plant operations told Reuters that the fire occurred in a hydrotreater unit at the refinery that had been shut on Wednesday due to a bypass line leak. Hydrotreaters remove sulfur and other contaminants in producing diesel, gasoline and jet fuel.

View from the road of a fire at petrochemical company ExxonMobil’s refinery near Houston in Baytown, Texas, U.S., December 23, 2021 in this image obtained from social media. Molly Fitzpatrick via REUTERS

Exxon is adjusting production rates at other Baytown processing units to focus on stabilizing the affected units, spokeswoman Julie King said.

The Baytown plant houses a chemical plant, an olefins plant and the country’s fourth-biggest oil refinery, with capacity to process 560,500 barrels per day of crude. It is unclear whether any units will be shut for an extended length of time.

The injured were contractors who had been repairing the leak. Three of the injured were flown to hospital by Lifeflight rescue helicopter and a fourth person was taken by ambulance, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said on Twitter.

Gonzalez said initial reports had indicated that there had been some type of explosion at the plant. Social media users said on Twitter that a blast shook buildings in the area.

The facility spans about 3,400 acres along the Houston Ship Channel, about 25 miles (40 km) east of Houston, and employs about 7,000 people.

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Four injured in fire at Exxon’s Baytown, Texas plant

Reporting by Arpan Varghese, Bharat Govind Gautam, Akriti Sharma and Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru, and Erwin Seba in Houston; Additional reporting by Paarth Gururajan and Seher Dareen; Graphic by Vijdan Mohammad Kawoosa; Editing by Kirsten Donovan, Mark Porter and Bernadette Baum

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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